Thursday, December 29, 2011


I got a bread machine for Yule and it's got me thinking. 

I love the smell of baking bread.  It reminds me of Saturday mornings with Grandma K.  Watching her knead the dough on the kitchen counter, her arms working and working until the dough turned from floury lumps into glistening rounds.  She'd place the dough in the bread pans and set them on the counter to rise, while we went of to the Farmer's Market and Harding's for the weekly groceries.  By the time we got home, the bread was ready for the oven.  We'd share a pot of tea and cookies while the bread baked.

It was always my job to get the bread out of the pans and spread butter over the crust.  The hardest part was waiting for the bread to cool enough to slice.  Once, I couldn't resist and dug out warm bread from the bottom of a loaf.  Like no one would notice the missing chunk.  When picking up the bread to slice, Grandma commented that she must have a mouse in the kitchen, who liked bread as much as I did.  No direct accusation, but I knew I couldn't get away with sneaking bread like that again.

So bread... flour, water, yeast, a touch of salt, a bit of milk, maybe some spices or butter.  Mix everything together and let it rise and you have a miracle.  A lot like living a life.  With bread, you have to trust that the yeast will help everything rise.  With life, you have to trust.  Period.

I have a new little love in my life, as of December 22nd.  A tiny 2 lbs, 9 oz baby boy - Aadi.  He's absolutely perfect and amazing.  Watching his long fingers and wiggly toes, his miniature forehead wrinkling in determination, I pray, and trust, that there's enough yeast to help him grow.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Challenge

I admit it.  I am not a fan of winter.  Too cold, too much white stuff on the ground - just makes me want to hide out until things bloom again.  And, most of all, I hate wearing a coat.  Bleh.

But, I admit, watching the snow fall from inside my cozy house, knowing I don't have to fight the icy roads, well, that gives me a certain sense of joy.  There's a quiet that comes over my neighborhood that's so pleasant.  And the white carpet that develops over the resting gardens in broken only by flashes of green from the pine tree and my hellebore plants.  Gorgeous.  These are the first flowers to bloom in the spring, even before the crocuses.

So when the Etsy Bead Embroidery Guild decided on a theme of "Winter" for its first team challenge, I set out to create a necklace that would have the same feel as hellebores in snow.  Here's what I came up with:

May you enjoy the best of what winter has to offer.  (And may it not snow until February!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

It's Time! Virtual Craft Show!

70 shops!  70 chances to win free goodies!

Check out the details at:

And, in celebrations, BrisingBeads is offering 25% of all necklaces in the Etsy shop.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Finding Balance

I had a productive week, jewelry-wise.  Several new creations have been added to Etsy.  Here is one of my all-time favorites, the Field of Dragonflies.

Last night, I laid out and glued a bunch of new designs and organized my work drawer.  Some are really simple pieces, some more elaborate.  I've got several pieces planned around the art glass cabs I've been putting together.  So far, all of my Etsy sales have come from art glass pieces.  By setting up what I plan to work on during the week, I don't have to think about it when my brain is so clouded up with school responsibilities.  And, since I'm headed into a marathon two week research/writing mode, this is really important. 

I'm so much happier when I'm doing something creative.  I love teaching and researching and writing.  I'm excited to work on my thesis topic (Women's History Month) but I need that shift in creativity in the evening, when I can work with color and play with beads.  Ahh, balance.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Feeling inspired

Best bead  embroidery book on the market!I have over 100 papers to grade and all I want to do is play with beads!  The projects and tips in this new bead embroidery book have my mind going on overtime. (link below)  New stitches, new ways to do bezels.  I have a pile of projects sitting on my desk, pieces I want to get done before the end of the month Virtual Craft Show.  

Sigh.  Duty calls.  Must read critical responses on entitlements and abortion.  Have a said how much I love my students?  They are all so individually brilliant!

Glad there's an extra hour in the day, today!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Testing, testing, testing

This past week has been full of tests:  French exam (which I'll re-take in January, grrrrr), dental exams (It was a challenge to sit still in the chair when all I really wanted was to pull my sore tooth out of my head), pain meds (How many vicodin can one take in a day without being too stoned to breathe?), and finally, testing out new photo arrangements on the Etsy site.  We'll see how successful this proves to be...

So, when I ran across this picture of a Romanesco Broccoli on Kim Miles site (, I thought, why not?  Doesn't this look like the ultimate seed bead adventure to recreate?

I have lime green beads of all different sizes on order.  We'll see how successful I am...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Freya Necklace

 Nothing subtle about this necklace except the colors. The Norse Goddess Freya is known as the goddess of love and magick. She is also associated with the birch tree. To me, Freya represents the strong, independent woman - one that follows her dreams and loves with her whole heart. 

Scandinavian myth tells the story of the Goddess Freya.  Her search for knowledge brought her to a secret cave, which was home to four dwarves.  These dwarves were master craftsmen, each keeper of the sacred mysteries associated with their elemental names.
East honored Air, element of new beginnings, of thought and inspiration.
South held sacred the Fire of transformation, of passion.
West represented Water, the cauldron of rebirth, the tides of emotion.
North, guardian of Earth, brought forth stability, protection and the ability to withstand anything.
With these dwarves, Freya shared her wisdom of love, the greatest mystery.  In honor of this, the dwarves created a magickal necklace, “the Brisingamen”, as a gift to the Goddess.

This necklace has a 4" print of "Freya" under beveled glass mirrored by a piece of birch bark under glass, surrounded by seed pearls and seed bead embroidery. Neckpiece is made up of 3 strands: large pearls, beach glass and smoky quartz, and gorgeous lampwork from gubbyrooglass. 16" in length.

For additional pictures: 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Inspired by Picasso

Picasso’s surrealist period is one of my favorites, especially for his use of faces, mirrored images and circles.  The repeats of colors form unexpected patterns that create a complex but almost neutral background.  Picasso’s artwork has a sense of fun, even in the darker pieces.  Picasso saw himself as a medium for the patterns and symbolism in his work.  Rather than create direct conscious representations, Picasso sought to reveal the unconscious.  The man-made object becomes abstract.

This necklace, an entrant in the October Etsy Beadweavers challenge “Inspired by Picasso”, is loosely based on Picasso’s “Girl Before a Mirror” (, one of my favorite paintings.  I chose to highlight the circles and primary colors in the painting, using bright cabs of orange and green mixed with spiral patterned buttons.  I kept the bead embroidery consistent throughout the piece, creating the illusion of consistency.  The cabochons mirror each other, but just like in Picasso’s work the pattern isn’t an exact replica.  To illustrate the stripes and boxes of color, I finished the piece in a strongly patterned edging, with pops of peacock daggers for a bit of unexpected play.  The center piece, a fabulously expressive focal (from Yvonne Irwin of My Elements) grounds the necklace and adds a touch of familiarity, much like the faces in Picasso’s work.  I love to add faces to my work as they are so open to interpretation.  Is this face happy or sad?  Contemplative or goofy?  To add a sense of movement, I added a vibrant swirled lampwork bead to the neckpiece, accented by cobalt blue Czech glass and orange mother of pearl beads.  I also backed the necklace with a funky animal print ultra suede, in honor of Picasso’s enjoyment of the unexpected.  Necklace is 17” in length, 7 inches across.

You can see more pictures of this piece on Etsy.  Just type in justbrez or EBWC.  or the address is:

Please visit our team blog, between the 9th and 15th and vote for your favorite entry.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Last week, I treated myself to this beautiful piece of artwork by Helena Nelson Reed.  I saw this years ago in a calendar and saved the page.  I was overjoyed to find a canvas of it on Etsy!  Acccording to Reed, the original title of this original watercolor image is "Goddess as Woman, Looking Into Her Past".  It’s about finding feminine aspects of the divine, the Goddess, within ourselves and one another.  Remembering to Respect and Honor Her.

I’m beginning to feel better.  My long, painful summer is coming to a close.  My iron levels are up.  I have new meds that should arrive sometime this week and hopefully, hopefully, bring me additional relief.  School has started and my students are delightful and inspiring.  I’m falling into a pattern on the dreaded French and plugging away at my reading list for my thesis.  I can think again, at least until about 4 p.m., anyway.  I’m seeing colors again, where for many months everything has been grey.

I’m accepting that what’s going on with me medically is a disease – not an illness, not a condition, but I disease.  Something I’m going to have to deal with from now on.  No more blowing off how I feel because I don’t want to admit there’s a problem.  Which also means no more letting how I feel interrupt my life.

It occurred to me the other day, the day I bought this painting, that part of the process of healing, of re-building, is re-imaging my life.  I can fill it with all the colors and swirls and images that I see in the painting.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

War and the Imagination

I ran across this quote while doing research this week:
            “The only war that counts is the war against the imagination.” – Diane di Palma

Made me stop and think about my internal war this summer.  It’s not in my nature to stay in bed for 3 days.  Or hide away from other people.  Or not remember dates or words.  (Seriously, I made car reservations 4 times – 4 times! – because I couldn’t remember/figure out the right dates of my trip.)  I feel so unlike myself that I don’t trust anything that I do or say or think.  My imagination is frozen.  At the same time, my body and my mind feel like they’re moving through mud.  I’m scared, because I can’t imagine a way out of this.  Right now, the power of my body, of this illness, is greater than my ability to imagine my life being different:  happy and healthy and whole and productive, kicking ass on all the projects I have planned.

I have a doctor’s appointment in early September.  This doctor works specifically with hypothyroidism and adrenal issues.  And, he does this holistically, which makes me very happy.  Give me the power of the spirit and practical medicine over defined scientific limitations any day.  A holistic approach feels like a very effective tool to fight this health war.  While the procedures won’t be covered under my insurance, I’m praying the costs will be effective and worth it.  Damn it, I’m going to imagine with everything left in me that this is the right procedure.  I want my life back.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What's So Special About Beads?

I’m often asked why I have so many beads. It really is a deeper reason than “she who has the most beads, wins.” J Painting ceramics led me to beads. Over 20 years ago, I was creating a lot of altar pieces, dedicated to different Goddesses and Gods. Very rewarding and I built up a solid clientele fairly quickly. My decorative additions of fur and leather, sea shells and gemstones added a different touch to statues that were commonly available.

Someone gave me a book on beaded cabochons (this was back in the early ‘90s, before there were many bead books available) and I was off and running. It was a way for me to mix my love of gemstones with my creativity, in a more portable – and affordable – way than ceramics. I started making earrings and bracelets for a few shops in Vegas. I sold hundreds of pairs of beaded ankle bracelets, using a Venetian Lace pattern and small bells. (I think I can still make these in my sleep!) Seed beads let me play with colors and numbers. Aware that different colors invoked specific energies and different numbers held different meanings, I became conscious of how these could be used for magical purpose. The addition of gemstones only enhanced the effect. It was like playing and creating with an endless box of crayons!

When I started doing local shows and national festivals, the response to the jewelry was amazing. I would watch a woman’s energy change when she picked up something she liked or was drawn to. Many, many women are hesitant to even try on the jewelry that they like, especially if it’s something that’s a bit different from what friends/family are wearing. While it might be safe to stick with the simple silver chain and charm (and pretty), everyone enjoys a walk on the wild side once in awhile. And because so many of my pieces have been influenced by myths and nature and the divine feminine, I think women instinctively respond to this as well. I know that when a woman allowed herself to play a bit, to try on the pieces that called to her, there was an instant transformation in her energy. There was laughter or a smile. The shoulders straighten, the head goes up. There’s a light in a woman’s eye when she recognizes that she’s beautiful. She’s wearing something beautiful and that beauty is awakened in her.

I stopped doing shows when I went back to college. There just isn’t time to keep up with the demands of grad school and travel all over, doing shows. (And frankly, there isn’t the money.) But my inspiration for making jewelry has only deepened as I’ve focused my academic life on Women’s Studies and Women’s History. Now, I feel like I have a profound understanding and awareness of the cultural reasons why women have such a difficult time allowing themselves to explore and express their beauty.

My health has also taken a hit in the last several years. This summer has been especially tough on me, though I’m hopeful that now that I’ve discovered the reason (hypothyroidism) I can find the correct medical solution. One positive that’s come out of feeling so crappy is that I’ve reconnected with my beads. Once again, I’ve surrendered myself to the colors and numbers and gemstones. And now, with the popularity of beads so prevalent, I can also play with lampwork and glass! In my current narrow world of low energy, lack of focus, painful muscles, and sometimes overwhelming sense of malaise, I can sit and “play” with beads. The beads help me focus, help me to remain connected to something larger than myself. The beads remind me that I have a greater purpose. That my life is connected to other people, to other women. The beads give me hope, feed my determination to find an answer to the medical issues so that I can, once again, feel the beauty within myself and bring a bit of that beauty to others.

I have a busy year ahead of me! Researching and Writing my MA thesis on 'Women's History Month'. Facing my medical challenges - I WILL find a solution to this madness! Teaching - presenting my students the information that can change their lives. Increasing my business presence. PhD apps. I'm hopeful that by blogging, I can stay in touch with everything that feeds my soul, that enhances my beauty. At the very least, I'll have a record of my journey. And as I'm so often reminded, it's not the destination, so much as it's the journey!

Blessings - Skylar

And, to keep track of new jewelry creations, please check out my Etsy site: